Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here’s this week’s question:
“Dear Dave and TA, I have been following your ministry for a number of years now, and you seem to be becoming more and more critical. Is there no spiritual value in anything that doesn’t pass your standards? Do you have a meter that tells you when a church is drifting too far from the Scriptures in trying to get people to believe in Jesus Christ, or when something is too psychological to be helpful for a Christian in need, or when Bible versions are too filled with today’s popular language and expressions to be worth while? I see lots of people being helped by much of what you reject as being unbiblical. Is there no latitude or leeway for what God can use?”
Tom: Dave, this is representative of a number of concerns that people write to us about - not just about the radio program, but about what we present in the newsletter. And, you know, you want to be gracious in responding to things like this, but I think simply (it’s my view) things are becoming so outrageous with regard to what’s come into the church, the trends that are going on, and so on, you don’t have to look for anything, you don’t have to look under rocks, it’s just out there, and it’s becoming more and more blatant. But what about this - do we have some kind of meter to indicate, “Whoops! Your person just went over the line”?
Dave: You know, they say, “Why can’t we use something even though it’s not in the Bible - it’s unbiblical, if God can use it?” But if it’s unbiblical, then it’s going to lead you astray. Let’s take psychology - they mentioned psychology. Well, psychology comes right out of humanism. It’s not biblical, it’s not helpful, it doesn’t even work.
Tom: The concepts, the ideas, the teachings you’re talking about.
Dave: Right. So why would we turn to that? Look, the Holy Spirit is going to have to be at work - right? - to convict a person of sin, righteousness, judgment to come. The Great Commission was given in the Bible in the Word of God. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.” Salvation is in Christ - we have to know the real Christ. You can’t be attracted to a false Christ and get saved; you’ve got the wrong Christ. You have to come to Him for the right reasons. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, (Isaiah 55), come to the waters.” Well, if you’re not thirsting, Jesus said that they that hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled. If that’s not what you are thirsting for, you are thirsting for entertainment of some kind, so you attract them through entertainment. That’s not going to help. So to use false means is not going to help at all; in fact, it will hinder a person really coming to Christ. God said in the Old Testament, “You will seek for Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Well, then to present a false god - you know, “This God of the Bible is too holy. He’s too strict. Let’s kind of water it down a little bit.”
Tom: He doesn’t like anything you do, He doesn’t like you having fun, He doesn’t…that’s what we hear.
Dave: Right. Let’s kind of water it down a little bit. But God says, “You will seek Me, you will find Me when you search for Me.” So if you’re not searching for the true God, then you’re not going to find Him. And if you have some other technique or entertainment, whatever it is, that’s calculated…
Tom: To draw a crowd.
Dave: Right. That is not going to help. Tom, I don’t think I’ve mentioned it for years, if I ever did, but I remember as a young Christian, Hebrews:11:6: “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” I can remember as a young Christian thinking, Now, there’s the formula of success! You seek God, won’t He give you whatever you want? You can have a big house and a big car and a big job, and so forth. But then it finally dawned on me, Tom - I don’t think it took too long; I hope it didn’t - He is a rewarder of those who seek big houses, big jobs, popularity, wealth? No!
Tom: Your favorite music?
Dave: Right. He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. So if we seek Him, we will be rewarded with Himself. But if you come to Him in some other way that He does not honor, that waters down or compromises…
Tom: Or gives the wrong impression. You know, many who get involved in this think they are actually coming to the Lord, when in fact they may be drawn to, again, another Jesus, another gospel, another belief.
Dave: Tom, it’s like Matthew 13, which we refer to often because it is so important. Remember the first seed: The sower went forth to sow, the first seed fell by the wayside, birds of the air came and ate it, and the disciples said, “What does that mean?”
Jesus said, “When anyone receives the Word of the Kingdom and understands it not, then comes that wicked one and takes from the heart the seed that was sown.”
So if a person doesn’t really understand the gospel, they don’t know what the real gospel is about, they don’t know who the real Jesus is, they have come to Him for the wrong motives, they have come to Him for entertainment, or whatever, they will not be saved through the gospel.
Tom: Dave, this person writes, “Is there no latitude or leeway for what God can use?” Now, you wrote about - in Cult Explosion - about a young man…Jesus met him on a drug trip. In other words, God in His mercy intervened in this guy’s life, so God will be merciful. But do we then recommend all these other anti-biblical, anti-Christian ways and means of going about things?
Dave: Tom, I don’t how many thousands of people I’ve talked to around the world, gotten their own personal stories, because it’s interesting, and it seems it doesn’t matter what you may be involved in - and I’m not condoning any of this or saying that this is the way - but a person can seemingly be in such blackness and ignorance, or deception, but if their heart is right… Remember, the sower went forth to sow the seed, and the good ground - that’s those who out of an honest heart hear the Word. So if you really want God, He will reveal Himself, even if you’re searching in all the wrong places. But we don’t set this up so that we’re going to have people come to Him for the wrong reasons and so forth. But if a person is really seeking God, they will find Him. On the other hand, if they’re seeking entertainment, popularity, whatever it is…
Tom: Or problems being solved.
Dave: Right, to meet their needs, and so forth, and they come on that basis with that expectancy, they are more than likely not going to find the truth, and won’t find the true God.
Tom: I remember once speaking at a church about 12 Steps, and how it was a problem and how it was not biblical and so on, and this young man came up to me afterwards. He had his son with him, and he was really upset, very upset, because he went through the AA program, and he said this saved him; this really delivered him. So he was looking for a response to me. I said, “Well, praise the Lord!” and that took him aback, because I explained to him that he was in a situation in which he was a man dehydrated, like a man crawling through the desert. And there was this polluted stream that he drank from, and AA is more than polluted, but yet God used - just as a man needing some kind of nourishment, even if it’s polluted, to get him onto cleaner water, to purer, living water. I think he understood that, that he wouldn’t want his son to go through what he went through, because AA is - again, it’s definitely polluted. But he wouldn’t turn to that today. He knows Christ and his child knows Christ.
Dave: Mm-hmm. Well, we’re just going to stick with the Word, and we want to preach the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit from the Word of God. That’s the only way. We want to be empowered by the Spirit, we want to be in-dwelt by Christ, and we want Him to be made known. And those who want to know Him, those who want to believe will believe. Those who are opposed will reject Him no matter what kind of entertainment, or whatever it is, that you throw at them.